November 21st, 2017

Praxis: Get cracking on this one, learn the strength of eggs


By Medicine Hat News on November 11, 2017.

The other day I was purchasing groceries and the cashier handed me my eggs and said “be careful.” I commented that I am likely to break a few in the process of getting them home to my refrigerator. A conversation then followed on how fragile eggs are; I commented on how tough eggs are, it is actually the person handling them that is perhaps a bit accident prone that is the problem! To prove my suggestion that eggs are stronger than we give them credit for, let’s start investigating.

*Remember to ask an adult before doing this experiment.

Materials

– tarp or large sheet of plastic

– four dozen eggs (or more just to make sure you have enough on hand)

– a volunteer

– bare feet

– chair or stool

– cane, crutches or someone to hold on to

– hot water and soap

Procedure

1. Lay the tarp out on a nice flat surface that you are going to work on.

2. Place the chair or stool on one edge of the tarp.

3. Open the carton of eggs. Make sure that the eggs are positioned the same way in each carton. If you closely examine an egg, you will see that one end of the egg is a bit more pointy than the other end. It is important that the eggs are all positioned the same so you can stand on them evenly.

4. Lay two dozen eggs on the tarp, at the foot of the chair.

5. Lay another two dozen directly after the first two dozen.

6. Using the crutches, cane or have your friend help you step on top of the carton of eggs.

7. This is tricky, you have to try to distribute your weight evenly on top of all of the eggs. Do one foot at a time. Once you have found a comfortable position on the first dozen, lay your second foot on the other container of eggs and position your weight the same.

8. Do not get nervous or jump up as you are going to hear some cracking — what did you expect?

9. Walk across the cartons of eggs.

10. Did you break any?

11. When you are finished, make sure you wash your feet and the entire area with hot soapy water. Eggs can contain salmonella that can make you ill so ensure the area is disinfected well.

What is going on?

If you did not succeed, keep trying. I guarantee that this experiment is possible. I have had MANY people walk across the eggs, from little children to adults. Eggs really are amazing! It does not matter who you are. In this experiment the shape of the egg is what gives it such tremendous strength. An egg is the strongest at the top or bottom; this is why it will not break if you apply pressure evenly to both ends. This is important and why you need to balance evenly atop the eggs. The shell is curved and it helps to distribute the pressure evenly over the entire egg instead of concentrating all of that weight at one point. They crack when there is an uneven force on the shell. Hence, when we crack them into a bowl for our morning scrambled eggs, they crack so easily.

Some people tell me that the container the eggs are stored in is also a factor. I will be honest, I have not tried this. I challenge you to try different types of containers as well; styrofoam, cardboard, use your imagination. This might make an interesting science fair project for an elementary student! If you try this out, I would love to hear your results.

Patty Rooks is senior scientific consultant at PRAXIS, “Connecting Science To The Community.” Contact Praxis at praxis@praxismh.ca, http://www.praxismh.ca, Tweet or follow us @PraxisMedHat, or friend us on Facebook.


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